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As a part of this mission the NRCS engages in cultural resource management with the landowner, state and tribal offices, and local entities. Many NRCS activities constitute undertakings under the definition in 36 CFR § 800.16(y) of the regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, “Protection of Historic Properties” (36 CFR Part 800). NRCS works closely through its assistance programs with landowners, state and tribal offices, and industry partners to assess the potential effects of its undertakings on historic properties. The fundamental elements of NRCS cultural resources policy involve protection and enhancement of cultural resources and historic properties in their original location to the fullest practical extent, and mitigation of adverse effects that cannot be avoided through treatment of the historic properties.
Refer to the links below for further guidance and instruction on the agency’s compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
For assistance please contact the NRCS’ Federal Preservation Officer:
Dana R. Vaillancourt
ELECTRONIC 106 SUBMISSION LINK AND INSTRUCTIONS
The ACHP has implemented a voluntary Electronic Section 106 Documentation Submittal System (e106) for use by any federal agency (or officially delegated non-federal entity) when notifying the ACHP of a finding of adverse effect, inviting the ACHP to be a consulting party to resolve adverse effects, or proposing to develop a Programmatic Agreement for complex or multiple undertakings. Use e106 to submit signed PA’s for approval and posting.
The e106 system is designed to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of the Section 106 review process by providing federal agencies with an electronic submittal system that serves to expedite a critical step in Section 106 review and encourage complete and accurate submissions that can be shared with others. Read the announcement regarding the availability of this system.
Section 106 E-Newsletters
NRCS / ACHP PARTNERSHIP FOR COMPLIANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
Since 2009, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has partnered with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to support dedicated assistance in Section 106 program innovations and greater efficiencies in program implementation. This partnership has facilitated work to develop a new NRCS nationwide program alternative, targeted training, and relevant guidance documents and templates for compliance correspondence.
Beginning in May 2011, the NRCS partnered with the ACHP to support a full time senior staff position at the ACHP to serve as the principal point of contact for handling NRCS program and project review. The position is within the Office of Federal Agency Programs (OFAP) at the ACHP. In addition to assisting NRCS in completing Section 106 review, the ACHP’s liaison works with NRCS headquarters to develop and implement national policy and programs with the potential to affect historic properties. The partnership between NRCS and the ACHP has had many benefits, and has resulted in:
If the ACHP can be of any assistance to you please contact:
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signed the Authorization Letter on November 21, 2014 designating the Prototype Programmatic Agreement (PPA) for the use by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Prototype Programmatic Agreements are a type of program alternative that the ACHP can designate to assist federal agencies in their efforts to comply with the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. § 470f) and its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800). Prototype agreements may be used for the same type of program or undertaking in more than one case or area, and typically establish efficiencies and protocols for implementing these undertakings.
Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), federal agencies must consider the effect of their undertakings upon historic properties. NRCS, in coordination with the ACHP has developed an innovative approach that gives states and stakeholders more predictability in how they take into account the effects of their programs on historic properties while carrying out NRCS’s important work providing assistance to farmers and landowners throughout the United States.
When a federal agency uses a PPA, the agency may develop and execute subsequent agreements with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and/or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) without the need for ACHP participation in consultation or execution of the agreement. This program alternative ensures that consistent measures are used to address the impacts of NRCS programs on historic properties and are uniformly applied in each agreement negotiated pursuant to the PA while allowing individual agreements to be tailored to conditions in each state.
In order to assist stakeholders in using the PPA, the ACHP developed a frequently asked questions document. Additional information relevant to this effort is presented below.
Since the authorization of the PPA on November 21, 2014, the NRCS has completed PPA’s with 29 states, 1 American territory, and 5 tribes. The NRCS is actively pursuing completion of agreements with all states, territories and Indian tribes where implementation of the PPA will result in benefits to NRCS grant and technical assistance applicants and for the cultural resources involved in the Section 106 review.
There are 10 PA’s that were in effect for all of 2016: Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Penobscot Indian Nation (ME) & Stockbridge-Munsee Community (MA).
NRCS and their partners have recognized the benefits of the PPA include: reduced paperwork production and transmission, focused cultural resource inventory reviews leading to increased identification and protection efforts, expedited grant application and technical assistance reviews, and better working relationships with Indian tribes and states.
If you are an Indian tribe, state or American territory and are interested in developing a PPA with the NRCS as part of the Section 106 process, contact the NRCS Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) for more information.
A list and a map showing signed NRCS Prototype Programmatic Agreements:
The NHPA’s implementing regulations at 36 CFR Part 800.2(c)(2)(ii)(E) allow an Indian tribe or a Native Hawaiian organization (NHO) to enter into an agreement with an agency official that specifies how they will carry out their consultation responsibilities. These agreements can cover all aspects of tribal participation in the Section 106 process and may grant the Indian tribe or NHO additional rights to participate or concur in agency decisions in the Section 106 process.
The NRCS is actively pursuing development of these agreements with Indian tribes and NHOs. Known benefits to both parties include increased communication, transparency, efficiency, and understanding between Indian Tribes, NHO’s and the NRCS. This increase in understanding and these agreements serve as a basis for additional partnerships.
Tribal Ancestral Lands Consultation (TALC) Workgroup
Taking into account an undertaking’s effect on sites of religious and cultural significance can be a particularly challenging task when a tribe has relocated or has been removed from their ancestral lands. In many cases these tribes are located several states away from where they originally resided.
The TALC workgroup developed several products for NRCS staff that will aid them as they work with tribal partners to identify sites of religious and cultural significance within an Indian tribe’s ancestral lands. These documents are being finalized for release.
Native American Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NATHPO) Conference During the 2016 annual NATHPO meeting, NRCS staff presented the results of the TALC workgroup and requested feedback on the products. NRCS staff was available throughout the conference to meet with Indian tribes, discuss concerns, and serve as a sounding board for future collaboration opportunities. The feedback was integrated into the documents.
NRCS Tribal Liaison Program
The commitment NRCS has to Indian country, and the volume of field offices and tribal liaisons staffed by the NRCS, provides a great opportunity for tribal values and cultural resource management to interact. In addition to the invaluable assistance tribal liaisons play in assisting NRCS Cultural Resource personnel, the liaisons are regularly engaging Indian tribes in the pursuit of providing grant funds and technical assistance to tribal members. For more information on NRCS Tribal Liaisons see the information below.
DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES
The NRCS has various policy and procedural reference and guidance in place to consider cultural resources affected by emergency work in the Emergency Watershed Protection Program or as lead agency in accordance with the Unified Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation Review (UFR) Process for Disaster Recovery Projects. Preservation of human life and property shall be the primary concern and focus of the emergency measures while taking into account the effects on cultural resources to the fullest extent practicable.
Where FEMA or its designee is the lead, NRCS (USDA) works under the Memorandum of Understanding Establishing the Unified Federal Environmental and Historic Preservation Review (UFR) Process for Disaster Recovery Projects. If the NRCS State office has not developed specific procedures for responding to exigencies, the NRCS can:
As an agency the NRCS has several programs that address emergency response. Frequently, Section 106 undertakings associated with disasters or emergencies involve NRCS grant and/or assistance. Refer to these links for additional information.
ACHP TOOLS AND GUIDANCE
Updated October 3, 2017